Congress sends Russia sanctions bill to Trump; unclear if he’ll veto
WASHINGTON» The Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to pass a bill increasing sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, establishing vetoproof majorities for the measure that also allows Congress to block President Trump from easing sanctions against Moscow.
The 98-2 vote sets the president up with a pivotal choice: veto the bill knowing that lawmakers are prepared to override, as communications chief Anthony Scaramucci suggested this morning on CNN that he might, or sign the legislation that binds his hands when it comes to altering sanctions policy against Moscow, a provision his administration lobbied hard against.
Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were the only senators to vote against the bill. The two were also the only votes against an earlier version of the legislation the Senate passed last month, also by a vote of 98-2, that focused on just Russia and Iran.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say whether the president would veto the bill.
“We’re going to wait and see what that final legislation looks like and make a decision at that point,” she said. But in an interview on CNN earlier in the day, Scaramucci said Trump “may veto the sanctions” to “negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians.”
It is unlikely that promise will be persuasive to members of Congress, who banded together in near-unanimous numbers to endorse unprecedented oversight powers on the president’s sanctions authority, a sign of many lawmakers’ concerns that Trump is fostering a toowarm relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and may scale back punitive measures against Moscow.